Friday, February 04, 2011

Beagle Returns

I mentioned that a week ago we installed a new NAS server to hold all of our documents. Now that a few tuning projects are over, I had some time to restore the functionality of having Beagle available for users to search their documents. We continue to use Beagle because it offers the ability to build the databases in a manner suited for multiple users, and multiple departments. You can tell it to create a database of all documents in the IT directory, and then grant permissions for only IT staff to see those files. Each individual user in IT doesn't then have to crawl and find the documents; it's only done once.

Beagle had changed a bit since the old 32bit server was deployed, so I had to check out some new backends and command line arguments. In looking at the old code and clunky UI, I decided to try a new approach to make it easier. This only took a short period of time, it's simply some new bling on top of the old infrastructure.

The old beagle-search UI had their available sources (folders) in a drop down menu along the top that they could toggle on and off. Users rarely found them and didn't know what they were selecting. Since all employees have access to three folders, I made a quick glade/python UI to connect them to the right document databases. The shot below shows the current design for testing. I added this UI to metacity/Windows+F5 so that it can be opened with a simple keystroke. UI pops up and you tell it if you want to search your personal documents, your departmental documents or citywide documents and then beagle-search comes up pointed to that static database. Simple, easy and stable.

Now all I have to do is install our standard MIME document bars on this server and the project is complete.

PS: Looks like Beagle-search really needs some new artwork, pretty fuzzy icon.


Anonymous said...

have you looked at tracker to replace beagle as its basically dead upstream. Tracker has come a long way in terms on resource usage and speed.

Dave Richards said...

pbrobinson: Yup, as far as I know, tracker doesn't allow you to scan a file system for new files once and then halt and write out a static database. I don't need it to continue to monitor the file system over and over again.

forbes said...

I realize this is still testing, but just in case you've not noticed, there are a couple of things you might want to change in the initial dialogue box:
- double "match"
- no space between the comma and "and" in the first sentance.
- Second sentance should start with "Your"

However, I'd suggest changing it all to something a bit more user friendly like:
"Beagle is a search engine for all your Largo County files - it's like an internal Google. Let the beagle track down those files."

Whenever they select a search folder and their personal files have not been fully indexed (probably only once), then inform them that the first time this is run it might take a bit longer to index all their personal files. Although I'd be tempted to run the indexing over a few nights before you make it available to users if possible - first impresssions last and if the first search takes 2 minutes then they'll never use it again.

Also, I'd put the descriptions above the paths on each button:
+ File in your personal folder +
+ /users/teachers +

+ Department files +
+ /users/largo/it +

Hope this helps.